Domains Reregistered for Distribution of Unrelated Content
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In recent years, many Internet users have become aware that when domain names expire (after their original registrants forget, fail, or otherwise decline to renew them), the domain names may be reregistered by others. In principle this is a desirable feature of domain name system; this structure by and large allows and facilitates a turnover of names from those uninterested in using them to those who in fact do seek to put them to active use. But recent experience shows also that large numbers of domains are in some instances renewed by firms that seem to seek not to offer original or useful content but instead primarily to capitalize on the prior promotional works of certain domains' original operators.

In particular, such firms often offer pornographic or sexually-explicit images, advertising, or links or redirects to other commercial sites. The apparent hope and expectation of such firms is that at least some users will request the web pages previously (before domain expiration) hosting other content; any such users will instead be shown this new content, likely creating profits for the firms that reregistered the expired domain names.

In upcoming work, I seek to document a large number of instances of this behavior. To do so, it is helpful to begin with a sample of known examples of this behavior; I can then use a variety of automated methods to find other similar domains.

Those who wish to contribute to this effort may email me.

Ben Edelman
Last Updated: April 12, 2002

This page is hosted on a server operated by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, using space made available to me in my capacity as a Berkman Center affiliate for academic and other scholarly work. The work is my own, and the Berkman Center does not express a position on its contents.